Sunday, April 30, 2017

Another Week at McDowell Mountain



After our appointment with D & R RV in Glendale last week, we moved back to McDowell Mountain Park for another week or so. While we were here over the winter and took care of our doctor appointments, I tried to get my primary care to switch me to a different type of thyroid medication due to some heart palpitations that I thought might be related. She was not comfortable doing this but referred me to an endocrinologist, whom I was not able to get an appointment with until last Monday, which is why we came back. She did change my medication, so now I will just have to wait and see if it improves things over time.

Jim had a few new growths sprout up on his face and scalp since his last dermatologist appointment a few months ago, so although dermatology was booked, he was able to get in with family practice and got some things zapped the other day. Looks like he has chicken pox, as the doctor went a bit crazy with the liquid nitrogen, but now he should be good until we come back next winter.

We normally leave this area long before it gets hot enough for things to really start blooming, so although the green desert we left back in mid-March is now brown, the cholla blooms are adding some color.



As are the ocotillo.


And the palo verde trees are full of tiny yellow flowers, which the bees just love.



But my favorite is the stately saguaro, looking even more majestic with a crown of white blossoms, the official state flower of Arizona.



Each evening after dark several flowers open, but by mid to late afternoon the following day they close up, never to open again. You can see the brown ones on the right that have previously bloomed.


During their short life the blossoms provide food for bees, bats and birds, who then pollinate the flowers. If a flower was lucky enough to be pollinated it will turn into a bright red fruit that matures later in the summer and contains up to 2,000 tiny black seeds, which will be eaten by birds and coyotes and distributed across the desert. A single cactus can produce over 40 million seeds over the course of its 250-year life, but few germinate and even fewer grow into cactus.

This northern flicker was doing its part.




Of course we couldn’t come back to Fountain Hills without spending a couple days at Fearless Kitty Rescue. Luckily there were some open shifts, and we were happy to fill in and get our cat fix.


Molly is one of my favorites. She’s older but very sweet and shy, loves to be brushed, and gets along well with all the other cats. She was adopted earlier in the year but brought back because they said their other cat would not accept her.


Tocho is a very friendly cat and I’m sure he will find a home soon.


Can’t remember this beautiful cat’s name, but it was new and a bit shy. Several cats we came to know over the winter have been adopted but there are always more to take their place.


One afternoon we drove to Chandler to meet our friend Debbie for lunch at Uncle Bear’s Brewery. The beer and food were good, dogs are allowed on the patio, and there are cute dog photos all over the walls. This is my pathetic attempt at a selfie.


We’ve mostly been biking the trails in the mornings or late afternoons to avoid the heat, but since it cooled off the past few days we took a hike to Sunrise Peak in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. It was 5.8 miles out and back starting at the 138th St. trailhead a few blocks behind the Mayo Clinic off Shea Blvd in Scottsdale. We liked this sign at the start of the trail.


It was a 1,300’ climb on the rocky trail, but didn’t get too steep until the end.


3,069’ Sunrise Peak, our destination.


Not sure why but there were only a couple of blooming saguaros in this area.



Looking down on one of the gated subdivisions, where some of the houses have the preserve as their backyard.



Jim spotted this chest chained to a big rock down an embankment. We have no idea what it’s there for, as it would be a treacherous descent to get to it.


At this point it’s only another 0.2 mile, but 229 more feet of climbing to reach the summit.


Jim was behind me and about halfway up he somehow missed the last turn to the top. Luckily I spotted him below and yelled down to tell him he was going the wrong way.


Me at the high point of Sunrise Peak.


Views from the peak, looking down towards the trail.


Not only could we see Scottsdale/Phoenix,



but also Fountain Hills, which was blocked from view by the peak on our way up.


It’s a good hike, one we would come back and do again. Today we move north to Prescott and some new scenery for a change.


  1. Your posts are just wonderful to me. Thanks for writing them.

  2. All the blooms are wonderful, but those saquaros are amazing. Love the flicker among the large flowers! Good to hear several kitties have been adopted, the new kids are very cute.

    1. Fortunately, Fearless Kitty has a high adoption rate, and it's a really nice shelter for those cats that have to stay there awhile.

    2. Fortunately, Fearless Kitty has a high adoption rate, and it's a really nice shelter for those cats that have to stay there awhile.

  3. Loved your flicker / saguaro blossom pictures!

    1. I was lucky that it stayed there long enough to get some good shots.

  4. Hope the new med works for you.
    What gorgeous photos of the desert coming alive. Beautiful.
    What in the world is that chest all about. Such a strange sight.

    1. Thanks, it will probably take a month or so before I notice any difference, then will get blood work done in about 2 months to see if the dosage needs adjustment.

  5. Good luck on the new medicine!! Hope it does better for you.
    Love those blooms on top of saguaro. Amazing how nature works!!
    That chest is interesting!! What a mystery!!

    1. I actually did a Google search trying to find out something about that chest, but to no avail.

  6. So glad you are there to enjoy the beautiful blooming cacti, especially the saguaro. We will have to brave the heat one day to see this happen. Your photos are gorgeous! Love the Northern Flicker you captured...awesome! I've seen photos of the saguaro with the red fruit. Thanks for explaining:) How nice you got to spend some more time with the kitties:) Enjoy Prescott, one of our maybe towns!!

    1. The heat was no worse than what we had when we met you at White Tank, then our last few days it didn't get out of the 70s so it was really pleasant. We're freezing at 40 this morning in Prescott!

  7. I've always wanted to see the saguaro in bloom, so thanks for the gorgeous photos! The kitties are so cute. It makes me happy to know that so many of them find homes. Volunteering seems like a good way to get a kitty fix. :-)

    1. We never stick around the desert long enough to see the blooms, so it was a nice treat.

  8. Well I guess seeing the desert in a different state is a pretty good bonus to having to return in the heat. Love all the flowers!

    That spot on Tocho's nose is adorable!

    Have fun in Prescott...we'll be back there next spring doing a little house hunting between Cottonwood and Prescott.

    1. Tocho is a sweetheart and would make a great roommate for Rosie ;-)

  9. TakeToTheHighwaydotcom has left a new comment on your post "Another Week at McDowell Mountain":

    Wow, those saguaro blooms are so cool! I've been lucky enough to see a few, but never a "full flower crown" like that. It's amazing how the desert went from green to brown so quickly...I am sure that made you appreciate the lush winter you spent there.

    1. It was quite a shock to see how brown it got over the 6 weeks we were gone, but I loved seeing the blooms.

  10. Thank you for the desert flowers and kitty pictures. Your blog post is always a treat to read.

  11. Just love it when the cacti start to bloom. Great photos! Have a wonderful time in Prescott. We left yesterday for northern climes. :)

  12. I just caught up with your blog. Glad to hear you're moving uphill. I was excited to see your pictures of the super bloom at Anza Borrego. I can't imagine that since I've only seen it looking deserty. Have a great summer. I'll be following along.